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Schneiders Site Redevelopment
#1
A thread to discuss the future Schneiders site redevelopment.  Whenever that may be
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#2
[Image: B821883985Z.1_20150307080847_000_GQ51EFC...ontent.jpg]

Schneiders property in Kitchener officially up for sale -- LINK

Quote:KITCHENER — For sale signs will go up in front of the former Schneiders plant this week, the first step in a major redevelopment project expected to attract interest from across the country.

Owner Maple Leaf Foods, which closed the historic meat processing plant in February, believes it's sitting on a gold mine with the vacant factory and surrounding land. The 27-acre property on Courtland Avenue at Borden Avenue is a rare find in the middle of the city — it's near two future light rail transit stations and has about 750,000 square feet of office and industrial space.

City planners, meanwhile, envision a new neighbourhood springing up from the ashes of Schneiders. That could mean condos, shops, restaurants, brew pubs, space for tech companies, retailers and possibly light manufacturing on land that used to produced hotdogs and luncheon meats.

"It's one of the largest offerings in the region today, and there's a rapidly shrinking pool of infill opportunities," said Peter Whatmore, senior vice-president and executive managing director of CBRE Southwestern Ontario, the commercial real estate firm that will sell the property.

"These kind of properties don't come along very often, and it's pretty special."

...
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#3
Is it too soon to start with wish lists? I want to see the smokestack preserved. If it's fit, I'd like to see the "smokestack building" retained for pubic purposes (retail? food market? small Schneiders museum?). If that were possible, I'd probably want to retain as a "feature" the long elevated conveyor/passageway that extends from that building toward the north-east end of the site. Shoemakers Creek should be uncovered and form the core of the site's largest green space, extending from Courtland to the train tracks and hopefully linked under the tracks to an improved creek/trail extending westward to Borden Parkway (linking also to the Iron Horse Trail). The first buildings to be demolished should be the modern warehouses fronting on the north side of Borden - the area between the LRT and the restored creek would be where I would put a fairly dense mix of smaller stacked townhouses and walk up apartments, which I hope would be moderately priced or include a social housing component and which would have pedestrian access to the rest of the site, but car access only to/from Borden (add in a good pedestrian way to the Mill LRT station). I think the green area and housing out to Borden would occupy almost a third of the main site. It would be OK by me if the existing office tower were re-used as office space. Not sure what I would do with the factory complex itself - any buildings that pre-date WWII I would hope will be looked at carefully from a heritage/retention perspective. I wonder if all or part of the north end of the plant (Courtland at Palmer) could be converted to mixed use lofts?

It would be awfully nice if redevelopment of the Schneiders site spurred developers to acquire and redevelop the land along Courtland (both sides) down to Stirling - that stretch certainly could use some freshening up and densification.

All of this to be completed within ten years, of course. Wink

How does it sound?
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#4
I would be in favour of demolishing most of it, the solid wall of brick facing courtland is particularly uninviting and makes for a rather dark street most of the time. There's not really any doors, windows or anything to interact with the street. Even though some of them are kind of old they are really bland red brick buildings. I also don't know what value there would be in saving any of the walkways or covered conveyors (I dunno what they are) and it would limit possibilities for building the site up.

Personally I'd get the first plans for the property at 83 Elmsdale (see this thread for pics) and tweak them to fit part of this site.

I'd love to see the creek opened up and re-naturalized... the city ought to take the opportunity to build a trail following Shoemaker creek all the way to Homer-Watson and connect it to the Iron Horse. I walked through the entire tunneled portion when I was in high school, there wasn't much of anything down there, we were hoping for a body or something exciting, lol.

Here's the google 3d view looking from a western view. Massive amount of opportunity for city building here. I hope it doesn't end up being too bland and banal.

[Image: chwrs43.jpg]
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#5
The red brick buildings facing Courtland have been altered and added to so many times that it is hard to get an impression of what might be worth saving. There is one section dating to 1941 with a bit of style, although some windows have been bricked over. The northern half of the red brick complex dates to only 1976, which is why I wondered if it might not be suitable for conversion to loft space (a lot of the red brick could, one assumes, be replaced by large windows a la Arrow Lofts). I suspect that there may be other, older buildings behind the older ones fronting on Courtland, but who knows whether any of it is salvageable or worth saving? The report compares the site to Toronto's distillery district, which suggests there may be more there than meets the eye.
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#6
Just looking at the buildings on the 3d google view I don't see much if any redeeming features. I would guess the cost of re-working the industrial interior into something useful for offices or residential wouldn't be worth it. Given the way the buildings are all attached to each other now it might be not even be feasible to knock some of them down without compromising the structural integrity of whatever might be worth saving. It would be neat to salvage the brick and incorporate it into something new.

The biggest question is whether they could get the hotdog smell out of the place Wink
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#7
(12-11-2015, 09:25 AM)clasher Wrote: Just looking at the buildings on the 3d google view I don't see much if any redeeming features. I would guess the cost of re-working the industrial interior into something useful for offices or residential wouldn't be worth it. Given the way the buildings are all attached to each other now it might be not even be feasible to knock some of them down without compromising the structural integrity of whatever might be worth saving. It would be neat to salvage the brick and incorporate it into something new.

The biggest question is whether they could get the hotdog smell out of the place Wink

Hey, if they could get the smell out of Kaufman Rubber, anything is possible!
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#8
What exactly is owned by Schneiders here? I know about the main buildings, but I thought there were some on the other side of courtland too?
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#9
(12-10-2015, 10:19 PM)clasher Wrote: I would be in favour of demolishing most of it, the solid wall of brick facing courtland is particularly uninviting and makes for a rather dark street most of the time. There's not really any doors, windows or anything to interact with the street. Even though some of them are kind of old they are really bland red brick buildings. I also don't know what value there would be in saving any of the walkways or covered conveyors (I dunno what they are) and it would limit possibilities for building the site up.

Personally I'd get the first plans for the property at 83 Elmsdale (see this thread for pics) and tweak them to fit part of this site.

I'd love to see the creek opened up and re-naturalized... the city ought to take the opportunity to build a trail following Shoemaker creek all the way to Homer-Watson and connect it to the Iron Horse. I walked through the entire tunneled portion when I was in high school, there wasn't much of anything down there, we were hoping for a body or something exciting, lol.

Here's the google 3d view looking from a western view. Massive amount of opportunity for city building here. I hope it doesn't end up being too bland and banal.

[Image: chwrs43.jpg]


It is indeed fairly uninviting, but i think there could be some serious push to restore an old industrial building.  You can see where there used to be windows, maybe with them back in it could look good like Kaufman or Arrow.

Is it safe to assume the office building stays as is?  I'd guess so.
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#10
Realistically, there isn't much. Maybe one of the earlier red brick factory buildings might be salvageable, with the bricked-in windows restored. The brutalist office building is surely functional, might be worth keeping if it can be renovated at a modest cost. The rest ... I think they'll be better off demolishing and rebuilding mid- and high-density new buildings, hopefully with enough mixed-use.

Incidentally, that warehouse at the intersection of Borden wasn't really so much of a warehouse -- it was the distribution building, where products would arrive from the factory buildings and get picked and packed for grocery store orders, and loaded onto trucks. Most products would spend only a few hours in the building. (I spent a few summers in the building filling racks and trying to keep up with the order fulfillment.)
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#11
I would imagine the vast majority of the site gets demolished.  I think they'll try to work with the office building and brick building though if I had to make a prediction.

I think as someone mentioned though a logical fit is stacked towns along Borden
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#12
(12-11-2015, 10:33 AM)Spokes Wrote: What exactly is owned by Schneiders here?  I know about the main buildings, but I thought there were some on the other side of courtland too?

At least the parking lot across the street from the office building used to be Schneiders.  I don't think they owned any (many?) of the other buildings on the north side of Courtland, though.
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#13
(12-11-2015, 10:54 AM)tomh009 Wrote:
(12-11-2015, 10:33 AM)Spokes Wrote: What exactly is owned by Schneiders here?  I know about the main buildings, but I thought there were some on the other side of courtland too?

At least the parking lot across the street from the office building used to be Schneiders.  I don't think they owned any (many?) of the other buildings on the north side of Courtland, though.

I was wondering about that myself - isn't the large parking lot down Kent also part of Schneiders?  I'm also not sure about the empty area bounded by Stirling, the train tracks and Palmer (behind the properties fronting on Courtland).  I thought that used to be parking for Schneiders as well, but I can't remember.
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#14
(12-11-2015, 11:01 AM)panamaniac Wrote:
(12-11-2015, 10:54 AM)tomh009 Wrote: At least the parking lot across the street from the office building used to be Schneiders.  I don't think they owned any (many?) of the other buildings on the north side of Courtland, though.

I was wondering about that myself - isn't the large parking lot down Kent also part of Schneiders?  I'm also not sure about the empty area bounded by Stirling, the train tracks and Palmer (behind the properties fronting on Courtland).  I thought that used to be parking for Schneiders as well, but I can't remember.

Hmmmm, you might be right on that, although I can't remember for sure. 

They did own the land between Mill and the railroad that now has the townhouse complex.  Not sure about the vacant land on the other side of the creek from the townhouses, next to the industrial buildings.
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#15
Must we demolish everything?

There are plenty of parking lots to do carte blanche development on.  Can we save at least a little of our own heritage?
  • I'd take the older, streetfronting buildings, and punch out the windows back to their original design.
  • The 70's era brick buildings, I'd leave it up to a decision on how good the bones of the building are.  They are 50 years old, and probably a simple steel frame that may be fine, or may be corroded to death. You could still punch out windows in the walls, even if they never existed before (see the current works on the Manulife/King Centre)
  • Sacrifice (part of?) a building in the middle of the block on Courtland to add some permeability.
  • The brutalist office tower likely has some good life left in it. The two storey building behind it could be decent "Loft Office" space.
  • In the interior of the block, any additions that glued existing buildings together should go. There may be one or two interesting, salvageable, and economically viable buildings back there, but they've been built around so much, it's really hard to see.
  • Unless there's a serious "Distillery District" push, to make this a cute, night-lifey district, then the overhead conveyor, and most of the industrial paraphernalia should probably just go. Except the smokestack. Those are great.
  • The warehouse on Borden can become KWs premier EDM/Rave/Party space! Or... get demolished. One of those. I'm not really sure what can be done with that building. It's got a neat aesthetic, very 60's, but it's just so dead. Could it become an independent mall? I don't know.

With that done, there's still many acres of open pavement for freeform development of the rest of the block.
  • Bring a pedestrian/cyclist path up from Borden alongside the railway tracks up to Palmer, protecting for eventual connection to Stirling, Madison, and the Iron Horse Trail. This is the most direct path to the Mill LRT stop.
  • Keep parking to the interior of the lot, avoiding fronting Courtland and Borden. Vehicular access will be from Borden and Palmer. Palmer may need to become signalized.
  • Frontage on Borden should be restricted to 3-storeys (or 4 with a setback) to keep from overwhelming the bungalows across the street. Any towers should be about 50m back or further. I imagine stacked live/work townhomes along the frontage.
  • Any awkward parts of the interior (thanks to saving a few heritage buildings) can be made an open park/plaza.

As for the rest of the lot, I don't know what is economically viable. We're seeing 12-16 storey condos going up on Belmont, so I'd expect to see a few of those here too. With that much density, I would hope that there's a decent amount of retail/service space added. The ground floors of the Courtland buildings would be ideal.
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